March 2005 Archives
The sakura have semi-flowered. I won't be posting pics, but please refer to the whole collection. I'm too tired, and it's really tiresome (really) to select, reduce, comment on each picture like this. Catch me for dinner when I come back to Montreal. [There are also videos, which start with "MVI" and at the bottom of the listings)
So today I went to Kamakura. I saw one or two sakuras flowering. Nothing to get wet for however, but I took some pics. Hopefully will be more when I come back.
So I'm embarking on a 6-day trip to the West. Expect no pics at all, because I probably won't have full access to any computer.
I have to make it quick, because Tante Ghyslaine needs the computer.
In short, I went for a walk in Harajuku. Didn't find the Totoro shop but the ride was more than enriching. So much life in such little place. And young too. So you're in Harajuku either because you're younger than 25, or a tourist. :D
(To whom it concerns: there's a Totoro shop in two places, according to the Internet. One in Harajuku, and the other in ... Kamakura! - For the note, I've been planning to go to Kamakura anyways. So tomorrow morning, if I can wake up early enough, I'm visiting the Tsukiji fish market (because I'm a sushi sucker, and will hug a frozen tuna anytime), and then Kamakura by Shin to Yoko, and then a local to Kama. Good, I'm already starting to reduce my words like the Japanese - after starting to mumble random "Hai"s and "Eto/Ano". Anyways).
Near Iidabashi is a commercial street, like many others, except that this neighborhood is one of French expats, and so the street actually has a few French specialties with an address on it. True creperie bretonne too. :D
Small crowded merchant street straight ahead from the alternate exit to the Harajuku JR station. Young people, and Japanese hip-hop or heavy metal blasting away at you.
I should've taken more pics of Harajuku... But I already felt extremely weird with my tripod and "conventional" outfit. This *is* Harajuku, after all. This was taken on the corner of Omotesando and Meiji Dori. Further East, the Omotesando portion competes quite nicely with Ginza in terms of posh chic (as a younger Ginza as well).
I joke you not. This is Lebanese food! The place is located on Meiji Dori, north-west side of street, and a bit north from Omotesando. And it's called "Kebab Box J".
Ok, in order, here are some selected pics. Will probably not have the luxury to post as often in the days to come, since I'm leaving for Fukuoka. The problem is not finding Internet, the problem is rather to find a computer to which I can have full access (compact flash drive, pics resizing...).
Btw, you should really check the sidelinks for all the non-selected pics. At the very bottom, I also post videos (click and save, open with Windows Media Player or other movie viewing program - even if it's possibly not the right extension).
Running after the train, again. Caught this one by two minutes. With city trains in Tokyo, it's not a problem: you miss one, and the next arrives like five minutes after. :D But this is Murone (Uri's tiny village). You see us cutting to the pier, on the rail tracks. Living life dangerously eh.
The best snacks evar. They're ~120yens each. The better alternative to the pack of chip for the late afternoon hunger (or breakfast, as in this case). Balls of rice, filled with a mystery meat (or non-meat), to the non-Japanese speaker anyways.
In-your-face poster of Junichiro Koizumi. Elections were last fall, as far as I know. Bleh. And funnily, both candidates had slogans promoting new-ness. I guess that's their sort of cool. In Canada we fall for healthcare funding promises, and over there it's "newness". Whatever, b/c Junko has only been the hip Prime Minister to Japan, and not much of the rest.
My lunch. I was wandering around the basement of a multi-floor department stores where the sort of food court was. This is rice, with a few cold Japanese things. ~600yens.
All the other buildings are ugly. Here, to confound you.
Morioka's really cool for shopping. It's the prefectural capital of Iwate after all!
Outside Morioka JR Station.
I didn't totally understand how banks work in Japan, but you can apparently withdraw money from ATMs in post offices...
A Green Tea Frappuccino from Starbucks. Also called "Matcha" frappucino in Japan. Only available in Starbucks coffeeshops in Asia, it was the forte of the Asia 2002 trip...
Denkodo is an electronics chain thoughout Japan. The "Max" version is pretty big, bigger than "Super" Denkodo, but smaller than supershops found in Tokyo (like in Akihabara, and Ikebukuro, I'm venturing).
Morioka Station this morning...
As you get off the train in Tokyo Station from Iwate (Tohoku Line, platform 22).
Yoshinoya is a fastfood chain in Japan specializing in Japanese junk food (udon, soba, tempura, curry rice, deep-fried patties, etc). Didn't eat there yet, but the orange is tempting (all-present in Hong Kong too, but didn't eat there last time...).
Commercial street near Iidabashi station. This area is populated with expats, it would seem. French, mostly.
Indeed back to Tokyo. Not very much to say, again lost in translation. I doubt I really want to say anything at this point. The Japanese language confuses me. It is frustrating to not be able to communicate. Is it how it is when you isolate yourself from other people? Solitary-among-crowd sort of deal?
I was thinking of going out for a walk in Tokyo, but I think I'll keep it for later, 5PM-ish. I've typically slept 5-7 hours per night since getting here, and not so much feeling it (I usually necessitate 9 hours to feel comfy). Maybe that the sort of rhythm I need to feel revigorated despite a flagrant lack of sleeping hours.
Now in Morioka, small city of Northern Japan, kinda feels like Sherbrooke, but a bit bigger I suppose (or not). It's very gray today. The clouds are grey. The water is grey. The buildings are grey. The trees are grey. It is a fun city to do by foot (I'm on my own today b/c Uri is at an intensive English class given to JETs staying for a second year - it's also a get-together for JETs in Iwate, the prefecture of Northeast Japan below the one at the Northern tip of Honshu. A bit cold too, since I don't have my dear gloves...
I got my Shinkansen tickets for tomorrow (Morioka-Tokyo) and Thursday (Tokyo-Hiroshima-Fukuoka/Hakata).
Funnily, both entries in the Music section so far concern Yuki of Judy and Mary. Uri brought to my attention that Yuki of JaM is now on a solo career. Latest single came out last month or so. I've put up the music video for those who can access the recommendations folder on Tacos...
In other news, I'm heading to Morioka, a small city of 300,000 souls in Northern Japan, tomorrow morning. I'll be back in Tokyo on Tuesday.
Ok, so again, for the whole collection, click the image on the sidebar...
I selected a few pics for lazy people (including myself, when I reflect back in a couple of years... sigh).
Edit: I struggled a bit with Uri's laptop and stupid Internet Explorer (*curses Microsoft*), and uploaded more pics...
Streets are so narrow in some places that they've installed those mirrors up there. This one is accross the street from Tante Ghyslaine's appartment, where I'm living at when in Tokyo.
Parking lot sign in Shinjuku. Because I'm a g33k. :D
That's me in (one of?) the hostess club areas of Shinjuku. Not recommendable after 9PM.
Shinjuku. Tokyo's built around the train network, and Shinjuku is one of the main stations on the Yamanote line, and also best-known for its municipal govt offices (one of the only places I could notice skyscrapers in Tokyo - sort of their version of La Defense), and red-light district.
Ubiquitous in Japan, too.
Yea... Gatsby products. I had to spread out the previous bottle over two years. This time I'm stocking up before heading back to North America. ^^;
A view of Tokyo from the Metro Govt North tower in Shinjuku. I think this is looking North, towards Ikebukuro.
Uri's lovely 11-year old Toyota Corsa. A car my size, so much my size that I'm hitting the roof when the car hits a (hypothetical) pothole. >_>
Outside of Ichinoseki Shinkansen station. A town the size of Drummondville, or even smaller, I'm only guessing.
Funny pic. Ha-ha.
Bought clothes in Japan! A chain called Uni-Qlo, which I didn't notice on my last visit (Uri says it's relatively new here). It's dirt cheap, like, cheaper than Montreal. I had a white zipper jacket (2900yens) and a green tee with a cool design (not quite Engrish like I wanted, but close enough - for 1000yens).
Inside Uni-Qlo, a few moments earlier...
I was invited at Michiko-san (Uri's Japanese teacher) for dinner. Was an excuse to get the whole bunch together (locals learning English, foreigners learning Japanese...). Can't really phrase how enriching it was... Ano.. Eto... Oh well, it was the greatest stuff to meet people here (despite what I might've said before leaving).
A newly-discovered picture of the atomic bomb being dropped on Nagasaki, taken by an uncle of Michiko-san. One of the only three existing pictures taken at ground level.
Japan might be one of the most industrialized places in the world, the envy of the world, technology-wise and the rest, says Uri, but Japanese have (or had) no concept whatsoever of urban planning. So, his house is not insulated. Water has to be turned off to prevent pipe freezing. I had to sleep with an electric blanket to prevent self-freezing (not really, ended up too hot). Etc, it's like HK, not as cold as Mtl, but gosh it's hard to keep warm.
...so this thing keeps houses warm. >_> Stops automatically during the night, and starts up again a few hours before waking up. Works with kerosene, so you can imagine the carbon monoxide produced by it. Anyways, death in Japan is a kinda romantic idea. ^^;
Not some form of J-kiddie pr0n. It's Suzuki An, and Aoi Yu, who we all know (at least I did :D). This was the cover of the March 2004 issue, and I guess it was for their featuring in Iwai Shunji's short movie which I forgot the name. So story of two best friends, until one of them finds a guy. Yay. (For the record, Uri likes Suzuki An, but I like Aoi Yu better ('was in Lily Chou-Chou as well).)
Got to Uri's village. There are more pics to be seen. Tomorrow we're visiting the countryside... I'm out of energy to talk about mine adventures. Oh well.
Chicago: Took it on our approach on O'Hare Int Aiport.
Sea of people: in front of immigration.
Lots of stuff to talk about, but I'm tired and sticky, er. Anyways.
Just to summarize about my current status. I'm at Tante Ghyslaine's (not a real aunt - rather my dad and everyone else's friend back in Mada) in what seems to be an expat enclave (there's the British Council and the Institut Franco-Japonais nearby - wouldn't be surprised if the Goethe Institute was close too ^^;), and super cool/pricey neighborhood. They made tuna for me. And I had a glass of Hokkaido milk. It's really Teh Shit I tell you.
Anyways, whatever. There was also a 30% (whatever that means) slope to get to Tante Ghyslaine's, and I went against my mother's advice and did the Tokyo Station stretch in train and walking. Makes for better pics, and better stories. I love adventure. I just totally wish there was a partner in crime to have them with. Sigh, and this is a big regret, you all know it by now (and I'm so low inhib - haven't slept for real for like 48 hours?? I napped in the plane, but then there's this audibly unidentifiable old Asian guy who would shout random stuff in my back to wake me up. WTF?).
It's Friday evening now... I need to change MT's internal clock...
Hmm, so indeed I didn't sleep. Ate my breakfast (two eggs, two white toast, one bagel), and currently wearing a very comfortable grey McGill sweater in anticipation of a long nap on the plane. I wish I could sleep the whole 12 hours of flight 'tween O'Hare and Narita... -_-;
EST + 1400 = JST
Therefore it doesn't matter whether I sleep or not, it's like pulling an all-nighter. Anyways.
Things with me: Japan Lonely Planet guide, plane ticket, Canadian passport, handful of yen, handful of us dollars, my <3 digicam, two spare batteries, Dawkins' Selfish Gene, Murakami's Underground, the textbook for Bacterial Pathogenesis, a lab stopwatch, music CDs, data CDs, 2002 model of Sony CD-MP3, Japanese phrasebook, printouts of customs restrictions, help sheets "interview skills", Moleskine booklet/diary, magnetic clip-on, postcard from the "Montreal voit grand" exhibit, vouchers for various exhibits, pens, eraser, a couple of papers on SARS and Influenza, and photos of friends and family <3.
Ok, this is it. Tomorrow I'm leaving. I was trying to reminisce the weeks/days before leaving last time, and nothing comes in mind. Except for generalities, such as, it was in the middle of summer, and it was hot. *_* Of course, anything photo-documented, I'll remember. But preparations to the trip? Absolutely nothing, besides buying the Hong Kong & Macau Lonely Planet. Not even packing up. It must've been because I had no idea of what I was going there for. Perhaps I went just to run away from something... The after-effects of the trip lasted for about two years: taking Chinese classes, listening to even more Jpop/Cpop/Kpop, overdosing of FanTasia, and so on...
(Oh well, my mom won't let me breathe until I leave. I've been planning the trip, and she's planning *the logistics* of my trip.)
And then, nothing. No more dreams, no more nothing. It is probably b/c I repress but since I'm going, there's nothing to repress about anymore. Only pure hard reality: I am physically going to remove myself from North America. I want to get lost in Japan. I mean, anywhere, as long as it isn't here...
The pics collection is thus reachable from the side links (the icon/image you can't miss). And I say: sayonara Montreal.
B/c Montreal will always be my hometown. Most probably the last pic of the Pictures of Montreal series. I always lived in this house, but I think to live in it for the duration of my existence would've, err, killed me. Anyways, leaving, for the better or the worse.
(Picture of the thing I'll be carrying around Asia with me - unoriginally called "Welcome to Wonderland(u)")
I started my online journal in 2001. The protected word-processor version (b/c *everyone* must've had a protected word-processor journal), in 1999. I guess it's a thing for introverts to have. Or I don't know. Maybe a thing that people obsessed with their past use. Or those who're pathologically attracted to librarian-like professions. Hm. Number of my friends tried having a diary online, but stopped writing in it for various reasons, most notably because they couldn't find anything interesting to write anymore. I, on the other hand, always seemed to have something to tell (mostly about myself). The travel blogs are the most interesting to re-read. The rest is only good if you happen to be obsessed about me. :P Now the MT engine, and integrated file-uploader makes it even easier to operate the transformation from the text-only journal to the multimedia one. When's it going to integrate video compression/embedding?
Two years after the invasion of Iraq by American and British troops... (The rest of them)
This usually never works, as people totally ignore calls for addresses. Well, anyways, if you're a friend reachable online (such as K ^^;), please send me your addresses. I'll erase the comment after noting it down. Real-life friends, I already have it, or will harass you until you give it to me. >:O (Your lack of commenting really makes me think I'm talking to myself, hrm)
[music: New Order - Someone Like You]
The Japanese Yen's like freakin' $87.20 CAD now (up from 83.50 two weeks ago)... Of course, as always putting things into perspective, every cent the Canadian Dollar gains on the JPY is like one buck... The yen was 76 cents when I was in Japan in 2002. Now that I think back, I went the weekend of August 10th-ish, an important Holiday in the Japanese calendar, thus why Tokyo was so eerily empty, even at rush hour.
To celebrate. I am far from being born to be a celebrator, or even a celebratee. I usually kill the mood of a party when I try to hard. It's just like that party I had last summer. It was super well planned. I met with the twins a couple of times, and we even coldly discussed the plans in the aftermath of my brother's disaster of a summer party (not his ex' fault, I just think things weren't meant to be - anyways, he's supposed to try again this summer with a couple of friends).
But in the end, the experience fell short when the host lost his breath. For one thing, I believed people genuinely wanted to be there. But it was all put together by myself. There was no spontaneous "let's have a party" attitude. And on top of it, no real reason to celebrate.
... and friends to go with.
Montreal voit grand. A hell of a meaningful exposition to go to as the last in Montreal for some time (I hope). I actually wanted to buy the book to show it off to people abroad, or even the DVD they played at the front of the exhibit (but it's made in-house, so you got to ask the ONF or something). To geeks, this is teh shit. I mean, urbanism plans, the 60s, World Expos, alternate universe Montreals... what more can you ask for? It's at the CCA until mid-September 2005. And to get to the CCA, you walk from the Guy-Concordia metro, go down St-Mathieu, walk along St-Cath towards West for 5 minutes, and down again on St-Marc (the corner with both Soup and Noodles joints) for 3 minutes, until you get to Baile (street before René-Lévesque).
(Let's try out some Chinese to see whether it still works...)
(This is basically straight from translating my approximate English. It's like Chinese people trying to speak English - or worse)
[在腦上的音樂: Belle and Sebastian - I'm A Cuckoo]
Well, I guess I just found stuff to do in Japan... :D
I don't have any problems with the healthcare system. But then, I'm neither in bad health, nor do I have "older" relatives who're particularly crippled. I guess we've been blessed in this family, somehow. Good genes I suppose, besides minor inconveniences such as hereditary nearsightedness (I doubt any of my aunts/uncles on *both* sides doesn't wear glasses or contacts), and diabetes. But hey, you can do something so that your diabetes doesn't get so bad, such as eating less sweets! But to stop reading or looking at little things for myopia? And it's one thing I'm perhaps worried about concerning life in Asia. All the what-ifs, like, what if I were to suffer some sort of disease/injury that'd require me to test their hospitals? I really love my Canadian socialist way. I can't afford it now as a student/young folk, perhaps I'll repay it 10-fold when I grow older. That sort of thinking.
What say you, doctors to be?
Oh well. This is Tara (Sayena's sister) driving us to the Vieux-Montreal to have some urban Sugar Shacking at Cabaret du Roy. Cars are an ubiquitous thing in Canada. And the real reason behind my leaving-away is of course the search for a city where driving is not a required skill. :P
Another visit to the Jean-Talon market. This time, my parents went cheese and wine hunting for me. ^^; We bought three pieces of cheese, a Camembert, a Pont-L'Evêque, and some plastic-wrapped semi-affined cheese with a stripe of blue in it which my mother picked up from the refrigerated counter. This pic is taken at Première Moisson, a chain of fine products grocery stores famous for its (pricey) bread products, cakes and traditional French Canadian style cold meats. Etc. Jean-Talon market is such an extension of Outremont sometimes, methinks...
This is "my" Taskforce crew. It's been almost a year I've stopped hanging out with them. Well, life goes on. So on the pic... Christine, Queenie, Paul, Nic K, Andrea and Charlene (and Cait somewhere on the side, or behind Nic...). Voted bestest csam pic by Rob-chair. I think it should replace the former party pic taken two years at the same event...
This entry's for gg. Which is the new one? (Well, you can tell from the cruncher marks...) And notice how they changed the fonting a bit...
Et pour un moment, j'ai perdu l'envie d'partir. C'est des choses qui arrivent, dit-on. Maybe it has something to do with the work I need to finish. I keep on pressing my students to hand in their thing on time, but I'm the one with the pile of project papers, untouched, and who wasted his weekend on his Linux setup. There's also the "other" job on the side which I need to seriously figure out. I need to stick to the library tomorrow. Faut que j'y mette les bouchées doubles.
I've cold sores popping out in my mouth. Rarely have any, only when I'm "stressed" (whatever that means to me - am always in denial). Reasonably I know I want to go, and will be going, but I think it's my defense mechanism kicking in, telling me that I should stay where it's comfortable. And reasonably, there's nothing to worry about. It's not like if I'm going to die. And besides, I have money sitting in my bank: I'm not going to let it waste in savings I will never use. C'est comme un double ou quitte que j'ai devant moi là.
Jean-Talon market, in the Northern parts of Montreal. They renovated, and built an underground parking and a new indoor portion at the middle of the market (opened sometime December 2004). Fresh vegetable, fruits, meat, anything you can imagine in a usual market. A couple of European/Mediterranean grocery shops on the fringe. Jean-Talon market's also situated in one of Montreal's most cosmopolitan areas...
That was my lunch. And I ate it all. >_> My weight varies between 138 and 145 these days - and I'm not so sure if the range at which it oscillates is any good. In any case, this was a French Fries (real potatoes, really deep-fried), and an all-dressed hot dog con ketchup, at Grease Pit chain La Belle Province. It's the shit, for only ~$3.00, or at least this is what I think (I then went on to spend $50 tonight at Au Petit Extra, some delicious French nouvelle cuisine, which has nothing to do with this picture).
Took home the hard drive sitting in the bottom drawer of the cabinet, and installed Ubuntu Linux on it. Was the easiest Linux install I ever did. 20 minutes to roll through the installer (only difficulty to try to think a partitionning scheme), and then 40 minutes to setup my programs and the graphical user interface stuff (over Gnome). Linux is not what it used to be. Ubuntu is a Debian-based Linux with releases every 6 months. It's teh shit, basically. All my devices work too! Sandisk ImageMate, the integrated sound, the network card, dual monitors... Only downside is the media stuff. Movies are iffy (no Windows32 codecs), and no Flash (but only because I run on a 64-bit chip, and Flash doesn't come for 64-bit architecture - not yet at least).
ok, alright, whatever. I took several nice pics of the pool, of the Montreal metro, but at the end of the day, I got lost sleeping on the bus and missing my bus stop by 10 minutes.
So there I am, in the middle of nowhere (village de Beaurepaire). Another take at phone boothes, as preventers of the frozen arse syndrome. *g*
My cousin Nathalie got married last week with Ludovic. ^^; They happen to have met before "meeting", as I was told the story, but wasn't until she came here for her last year of "fac" that they started dating. And like their dating was, the formal marriage was an extremely sober/low profile. Nothing to worry about, supposedly going to be some largish family party scheduled sometime next year (or summer? o_O).
Maybe, and maybe not. There are three weeks to go. In order to "deserve" my vacation, I'll work double the hours, double the effort, double the everything. And then, nothing. A grandiose flying-away, on my own, to Japan, a stopover between here and Wonderlandu, a buffer between Occident and Orient. Travelling on my own is one of those things that are just full of depression. Sure, you have the freedom to walk whereever you want, and hey, you can even potentially meet all sorts of new people! But travelling as a team is even better, simply because you're not the only one thinking about places to go... Hey, well, hopefully there's the blog! <3
It's free. You may.
It's a great day! My lab partners finished writing their grant. On the pic: Silvia (our boss), Nassima (post-doc), MP (former student), AK (PhD student). The box contains all the copies of the grant ready to be Fedex'ed... Woaw, the life in Science, all about the rush of writing the grant, submitting it, getting it and waiting until you get to write another one...